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What are Nervines and How are they Used?

Nervines are a class of herbs that help our natural response to stress and often act as a tonic to the nervous system. Whether you are chronically stressed or just need a little help on occasion, nervines can bring calm focus and grounded energy into your life.

We all face acute stress, like getting cut off in traffic or running late for a meeting. Many of us also face chronic stress, such as financial worries, family issues, or chronic pain. Nervines can help both acute and chronic stress conditions by helping the body return to a more relaxed state  by switching from the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system to the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system.

There are two general types of nervines that we work with in our practice, and we use these in tincture or tea form (click the links to learn more about taking tinctures and making medicinal tea).

What are Nervines?

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Nervine tonics are herbs that you can take everyday to build a stronger and calmer nervous system; these act as trophorestoratives to the nervous system. These herbs can help modulate and physically heal the nervous system with daily use. Some examples of tonic nervines include Milky Oats, St. John’s wort, and Skullcap.

Another class of nervines are herbal sedatives. These herbs provide deeper relaxation and easier sleep, so you may want to only be use these at night or during times of higher anxiety. Herbal sedatives include passion flower, California poppy, kava (or kava kava) and valerian.

The final class of nervines we work with are relaxants, which calm the nervous system in both acute and chronic stress situations; these include lemon balm, vervain, catnip, chamomile and linden. These are more mellow than herbal sedatives and can be used during the day.

The herbal solution to your particular concerns may include one or a combination of these herbs.

Nervines for Healing

Most clients benefit from daily use of nervines due to demanding social pressures and expectations. But with regular use, the nervous system often recalibrates to require fewer and fewer herbs to calm itself. The goal is to allow the herbs help us become more resilient in times of stress, not to become reliant on a nervine formula for the rest of your life. This takes anywhere from a few months to a few years of use.

Acute stress will always occur, but becoming more resilient (more ready to cope with life’s stresses) is what’s important. Our off the shelf formulas and teas are useful as part of a holistic approach to calming the nervous system. Tinctures are especially great for on-the-go anxiety remedies, and good to have in case making tea is not an option.

Here are some of the nervine tinctures I offer that can offer relief for both acute and long-term stresses:

“Mellow Mind” Stress Relief

Ease the mind and body during times of stress and intensity. Take up to 60 drops as needed, up to 4 doses a day. Do not take if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications, especially prescription sedatives, as it will have a compounding effect. Ingredients: Catnip, Tulsi, Skullcap, Blue Vervain, Cane Alcohol, and Water. Available in 2-ounce or 4-ounce tincture.

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Deep ZZZ’s Herbal Tea - Sleep Support

Unwind before bed with this calming floral tea. Can be used to destress during the day if you are not super sensitive to calming agents. Do not take if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications, especially prescription sedatives as it will have a compounding effect. Ingredients: Hyssop, Catnip, Oatstraw, Passionflower, and Lavender. Available in 1.5-ounce resealable bags.

Deep ZZZ’s Herbal Tincture - Sleep Support

Unwind before bed with this calming sedative tincture. Could be used to destress during the day if you are not super sensitive to calming agents. Do not take if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications, especially prescription sedatives as it will have a compounding effect. Ingredients: Skullcap, California Poppy, Passionflower, Valerian, Vanilla, Lavender, Cane Alcohol, and Water. Available in 2-ounce or 4-ounce tincture.

Deep Roots

A frazzled nervous system can be the result of an overall depleted system. Replenish and rebuild with this deeply nourishing blend. A favorite among the vegan crowd, this formula builds blood, vitality and grounds the spirit. It’s also one of the most delicious tinctures we carry! Do not take if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications. Ingredients: Reishi, Prepared Rehmannia, Raw Rehmannia, Foti, American Ginseng, Dong Quai, Yellow Dock, Ginger, Cane Alcohol, and Water. Available in 2-ounce or 4-ounce tincture.

Mineral Bomb Herbal Tea - Grounding and Nourishing

This wild and weedy tea helps to rebuild and nourish the body by providing essential minerals our bodies often lack with our modern diets. Remineralizing is one of the quickest ways to feel grounded and calm. Do not take if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications. Ingredients: Spearmint, Nettle, Oatstraw, Horsetail, Raspberry Leaf, Alfalfa, and Moringa. Available in 1.5-ounce resealable bags.

Poppy image by Milos Tonchevski and oats image by Evi Radauscher on Unsplash

Blair Townley